Foreign ministers of South Korea, China and Japan to meet for 1st time in 3 years

The foreign ministers of South Korea, China and Japan will meet this week for their first trilateral talks in three years, Seoul officials said Tuesday.

The annual talks, which began in 2007, have been suspended since they were last held in April 2012 due to territorial and history disputes among the countries. Subsequently, there have been no meetings since then of the leaders of the three countries, who were also meeting annually in a trilateral forum.

Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula and occupied parts of China, often brutally, before and during World War II. Tokyo's ties with Seoul and Beijing have further soured in recent years over nationalistic events and remarks in Japan.

Seoul's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it expects Saturday's meeting in Seoul to serve as a chance to restore trilateral cooperation systems. The agenda includes ways to strengthen ties among the countries and resume the three-way summit talks, ministry officials said.

Speaking in Tokyo, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged the three countries to work harder to reconcile their wartime past to ensure peace and stability in Asia.

Despite the harsh history and strained ties, South Korea, China and Japan are key trading partners and are also members of now-dormant regional disarmament talks on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

South Korea and Japan are both important U.S. allies that host tens of thousands of American troops, while China is the main backer of South Korea's bitter rival, North Korea.